An island where the people are out-numbered 30 to 1 by Red Deer is bound to have lots of other wildlife too. It is said that the Red Deer on Jura are as pure as can be. Elsewhere in Scotland some Red Deer have hybridised with the Sika Deer but not on Jura, here the bloodlines of the Red Deer are as pure as the mountain streams that flow gently from the majestic Paps of Jura. The island currently hold between 6-7000 red deer that have been controlled for over 1000 years! Seven estates are now responsible for their well being.
Other wildlife is abundant on this remote and quiet island too. Where the Red Deer graze in the valleys and on the flanks of the hills and mountains, the skies are patrolled by majestic Golden Eagles and Sea Eagles. But they are not the only birds of prey, Hen Harriers and Buzzards frequent the skies as well looking out for prey in the grass and bracken and in the evening at dusk and at night the Owls take over this task.
At daytime many other birds can be spotted, depending on the habitat you are in. Jura is fortunate to have a lot of different habitats. Woodland, bogs, heather, grassland and coastal bays and sandy beaches are present on Jura’s east coast where you find many species of song birds. The west of the island is more rugged and mountainous providing excellent habitats for sea birds such as Shags and Guillemots nesting on the cliffs and sea stacks. In the bracken and between the heather adders warm themselves in the sun before they go out to hunt for prey such as voles, shrews, mice, frogs, lizards and small birds.
On the shores and out at sea it’s a whole different story. Otters and seals can be found almost anywhere on Jura’s shores which are almost 115 miles in length. Where seals can be seen easily at daytime in secluded bays basking in the sun on a rock, the otters usually shows themselves at dawn or dusk but they are not easy to spot. (Arctic) Terns can be found on the rocky shores where they nest while out to sea Skuas and Gannets patrol the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The island of Jura holds much more wildlife than described above and it’s best to find out for yourself. One thing is certain, you will never be disappointed by the sheer numbers of Red Deer, the seals and the more than hundred different species of birds at any time on the island. All you have to do is walk, cycle or drive around and observe the stunning nature and you will see for yourself what there is to discover. Below more details of some of the most spectacular wildlife on Jura as well as a few more common birds.
Otters can be spotted on Jura but with patience. These busy animals live mainly near river mouths and close to the shore where they feed themselves mainly with fish. Otters normally live solitary and can breed all year round. The female looks after the 2 to 3 cubs who are raised in an undergrond burrow.
The males of this species are around 2 mtrs long and weigh 170-310 kg. Females have a length of 175 cm and a weight of 95-105 kg. Males are dark with light patches and have an elongated snout with a wide heavy muzzle. Females are light colored with dark spots.
Red Deer are common on Jura and sometimes large groups can be spotted in the hills. In the autumn (October) when the mating season or “Rut” starts the sounds of the Red Deer stags can be heard echoing between the hills over the island. There are currently around 7,000 Red Deer on the island.
Hen Harrier males are grey with black wingtips, females are brown with a white rump and a long, barred tail. Hen Harriers are to be found on the moorlands of Jura mostly flying low in search for prey. Don’t be surprised if you find one a couple of meters above you while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird and is therefore seen in coastal areas. Oystercatchers feed themselves on cockles. Oystercatchers breed on shingle and rocky beaches, dunes and on the grassy tops of small islands.
Unlike most other European auks the common guillemot is typically found in ones and twos, scattered around rocky islets. They breed along rocky coastlines in crevices in rocks or between boulders, rather than on open ledges. Guillemots feed on fish and crustaceans.
With their large and bright white with black wingtips and shiny bright feathers in the sunshine Gannets are very impressive birds. They feed by flying high and circling before plunging into the sea. They breed only in a few locations such as Ailsa Craig near Mull and the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.
A huge bird of prey which lives mainly on open land where it hunts. Eagles have traditional territories and nesting places which may be used by generations. Golden Eagles are resident all year on Jura as well as some pairs of White Tailed Sea Eagles.
The Buzzard is the most common bird of prey in the UK and is also often seen on Jura. The Buzzard also breeds on Jura and feeds on small mammals, birds and carrion.